Herding Cats

I am sure most people have heard the expression that something is like “herding cats.” I am sure herding felines would be nearly impossible based on my experience with having 1 in the house. Herding any of our cats, even 1 at a time, is quite a challenge. Even though our Siamese cats know their names and often respond when called, sometimes they don’t. Our current Siamese is the best ever in this regard; Rex comes when called probably more than 80% of the time. Yet there are times when he takes me on a tour of his domain, our caged pool area, before I am able to catch him to bring him inside. So the analogy of herding cats is apropos to trying to get anyone, animal or human, to respond in an efficient or linear fashion. For over 30 years I have attempted to “keep up with” our attorney clients. These are generally people who have contacted me about how we can help them on a specific case, so they should be responsive, in my opinion at least. Yet, it is often not the case and I end up making many telephone calls and sending multiple emails to get them to make a commitment to engage us for whatever it was they called about in the first place. It is exhausting and frustrating. On the one hand, I get it, they are busy. If they were not busy, they would not need our services. Additionally, they are often in the waiting mode for several reasons including client approval, the outcome of hearings and court rulings, and the ever present hope that a case will settle. Yet, especially when there is a known trial docket or date, the clock is ticking. And, our availability is limited. Melissa can only be in 1 place at a time. As I type this, I’m stressed out because we have 3 clients with the same trial date approaching, rapidly. One of them needs to step up and pay the retainer, but I do not want to “be a pest” and I’ve contacted them all multiple times. It’s times like these that I think of the times Rex makes me chase him around the pool and I can just hope to herd him in the right direction. In the end, it is often easier to herd a cat than some of our clients!

My job involves herding lots of cats, metaphorically speaking.  Not only do I “herd” attorneys, including timing their presentations during mock trials, getting a trial team to work together on trial strategies, and convincing multiple clients to listen to me and follow my advice during jury selection, I herd numerous other cats during my working hours.  Readers of this post have heard, numerous times, about my distaste for managing employees who just “don’t get it,” who are not a good fit for the Magnus corporation.  My job with attorneys is difficult enough without the people who work for Magnus seemingly thwarting my efforts at every turn.  Fortunately, there haven’t been many of these types of employees and when this happens, their tenure is short lived.  On research days, when we are working with lots of mock jurors or other participants, I have to “herd” them, via herding my research team, to ensure they return from their breaks on time, enforce the rules regarding their participation (such as not discussing the case until they are permitted to do so), and repeatedly remind them to speak one at a time while we are recording their deliberations and other discussions.  I am often herding multiple people simultaneously: the clients, my staff, and the mock jurors, something that, needless to say, is exhausting.  Calling a feline into the house is much easier, in my opinion, than herding people who are often less cooperative (and never as cute!) as my cat.  

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